The Sahel Region of Africa- The Underdog That Won The Climate Change Race.
The 3,860km arc like land mass lying to the immediate south of the Sahara Desert and stretching east-west across the breadth of the African continent, popularly known as the ?Sahel? region of Africa, has become our window into the future of how and to what extent ?climate change? will ultimately affect each and every one of us. The Sahel region, comprising of ten states and some 300 million people, is a collective of the largest number of people disproportionally affected by global warming. The Sahel region is characterized by vast stretches of barren, infertile land, life threatening food insecurity and what seems like short periods of relief in a region plagued with a constant state of drought.
The desertification already affecting 46% of the landscape in Africa and impacting the lives of nearly two thirds of the population of the Continent coupled with the fear that this might metastasize to other regions in Africa, has led to birth of the unified vision of the ?Great Green Wall initiative?. The Initiative was launched in 2008 under the auspices of the African Union (AU) and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) with the objective of growing an 8,000km long barrier of trees across the entire Sahel region, from the Atlantic coast of Senegal to the east coast of Djibouti, making it the largest living structure in the world.
In order to serve a dual purpose of combating climate change while simultaneously uplifting the community, the initiative has taken up a more decentralized role, whereby responsibility and onus has been placed on the local community to carry out the objectives of the initiative. The Great Green Wall initiative has broadened its scope to facilitate communal vegetable gardens, especially run by women in the community in order to economically empower them. The future animal wildlife reserve located in Koyli Alpha is another example where indigenous fauna are currently being reintroduced for biodiversity conservation and the promotion of small-scale ecotourism. The Initiative has diversified the activities under its objective to include the installation of roads and hydraulic infrastructure to facilitate the maintenance of these greening projects.
A decade in and roughly 15% underway, the initiative is already bringing life back to Africa?s degraded landscapes at an unprecedented scale, providing food security, jobs and a reason to stay for the millions who live along its path.